A weekly podcast with the latest e-commerce news and events. Episode 10 covers a recap of NRF big show, the latest Amazon news, and a new layout for Google Product Listing Ads (PLA).
Scot and Jason both attended the National Retail Federation Big Show this week. Here is an update of some of the things we found interesting on the floor:
Pepper is a robot from Aldebaran Robotics, it is an autonomous, moving, talking, reactive robot that can perceive human emotions. It was demoing it’s ability to work as a retail associate in an apparel store, where it could greet customers, scan QR codes on garments, and even give fitment and fashion advice to shoppers after evaluating their sizes with it’s onboard camera. Aldebaran is owned by Softbank, and Pepper is already working at a number of Softbank Mobile stores in Asia.
IBM was showing a robot running Watson for similar use cases.
Simbe Robotics was showing Tally, a robot that can patrol a retail store, and using it’s onboard camera take photos of the shelves to update the stores inventory.
Perch was showing their interactive shelves.
Intel was showing weight sensitive shelves that can determine inventory by weight, these shelves are created by printing conductive ink on paper which is applied to the shelf.
Opticon showed shelves with an embedded camera that determine inventory level.
Findbox was showing a display with a camera that can recognize objects, so a customer can bring in their empty ink cartridge and the display can recognize what cartridge it is to recommend a replacement.
Intel was also showing a system from Volumental that uses a RealSense camera to 3D scan a customers feet and recommend shoe sizes for Nordstrom. Another display with the RealSense camera was making models of shoppers for custom Brooks Brothers suits.
A number of retailers were showing Electronic Shelf Labels (ESL) and their larger cousins Digital Fact Tags.
Several vendors were demoing using the tags for real-time dynamic pricing, which seems a bit impractical. Jason discussed Nebraska Furniture Marts nightly dynamic pricing and B&Q’s variable pricing system.
There were a number of applications for AR/VR including Aisle 411 Tango project. Vendors showing VR to visualize custom made products, and retailers using VR to preview store designs before they are built.
We discuss the pros and cons and beacons. ShopKick announced the availability of an SDK, enabling retailers to finally use their beacon network in their own apps.
While the official story in all the booths was very optimistic, there was a lot of hallway conversations that led Scot & Jason to believe that it might have been a tougher than expected holiday season for Brick & Mortar retailers.
There were a number of rumors about UPS/FedEx raising their rates further, and potentially even charging “surge” pricing for holiday 2016. We discuss about some techniques retailers can use to mitigate shipping costs.
Non NRF News
Amazon was the top ranked brand in the US for the 3rd year in a row in the YouGov BrandIndex.
Amazon launched it’s new replenishment service, which allows product manufacturers to build Amazon ordering into their products. Such as a Brother ink-jet printer that can re-order it’s own ink when it gets low.
RW Baird released their 12th Annual Amazon Inventory Survey, which tracks how many SKU’s Amazon offers. It found that Amazons assortment is growing at an astonishing rate. Their overall selection grew 36% year over year, to 410 million items for sale! Apparel grow from 11m items in 2013 to 30.5M items in 2015, making Amazon the second largest apparel retailer in the US.
We’ll be following Amazon fourth quarter 2015 financial results on January 28, 2016, at 2:00 p.m. PT/5:00 p.m. ET.
Lastly, ChannelAdvisors uncovered a google test of a new layout for Google Product Listing Ads (PLAs), the new layout features an expansion widget which expands one row of PLA’s above the organic search results into two.
You can read more about this New Google PLA Layout on the Channel Advisor blog.
Episode 10 of the Jason & Scot show was recorded on Wednesday, January 20th, 2016.